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Originally published: 2014-06-26 18:07:40
Last modified: 2014-06-26 18:08:23

ASU athletics expenses grow to $20.6 million

by Anna Oakes

Appalachian State Athletics Director Charlie Cobb on Thursday shared a 2014-15 budget with the ASU board of trustees, noting that his department will spend about $2 million more than this year as ASU moves to the FBS-level Sun Belt Conference.

The university's first official day as a member of the Sun Belt Conference is July 1, when ASU has a number of community events and activities planned to celebrate "Sun Belt Day."

Cobb said salaries and benefits would increase $400,000 to $450,000 next fiscal year, scholarship costs would increase $600,000 and operating costs would rise $1 million. The most significant increase in operating costs, he noted, is in the line item for travel, which will increase about $800,000.

ASU is departing the FCS-level Southern Conference -- where most teams are located in North and South Carolina -- for the FBS-level Sun Belt Conference, with teams in Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Idaho and New Mexico.

The increased costs bring ASU athletics expenditures to a projected $20.6 million in 2014-15.

The 2011 feasibility study that recommended a move up to the Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) estimated that the ASU Athletics Department's annual budget would need to increase by about $6 million for its teams to be viable in an FBS conference.

The department's budget was about   $16 million in fiscal year 2012-13.

The study committee concluded that a move to FBS would open new revenue streams to cover the costs, including increased ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, donations and funds dispersed by conferences to member institutions from television rights fees, NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament shares and the Bowl Championship Series and other bowl games.

Student fees remain the largest source of revenue in the 2014-15 budget, accounting for $10.8 million -- 52.66 percent -- of operating revenue. But Cobb said that for many institutions in the Sun Belt and the SoCon, student fees represent 70 to 85 percent of total revenue.

"We're very fortunate to have people who buy tickets and the Yosef Club to help us from a fundraising standpoint to be able to minimize that number," Cobb said.

The department spends the most on the ASU football program at $5,192,703, and the program also serves as a significant source of revenue, with nearly $2 million in projected ticket sales, $1.2 million in game guarantees from Michigan and Southern Mississippi and additional revenues from Yosef Club contributions, concessions, licensing and sponsorship fees and other sources.

"Obviously, for us football is a major revenue stream. It makes the whole engine run for us," Cobb said.

Also included in trustees' meeting materials was a sheet detailing goals for funding and future projects. ASU hopes to grow annual Yosef Club giving, now at    $3 million, to $4 million.

Future projects include an estimated $15.6 million expansion to Kidd Brewer Stadium, including north end zone and east side seating additions; $2.2 million for a field hockey facility; $1 million indoor tennis facility; $4.3 million for basketball and volleyball facility improvements, including a new practice facility; $5 million to relocate the track; $1 million to replace the stadium turf; $750,000 for baseball field additions; and $500,000 for a golf driving range and practice area.

In addition, a "Championship Endowment" of $5 million would provide funding for performance-based incentives for coaches.

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